Summary: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. -- Scholastic Press
After having received an ARC of CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins at BEA in May, I have finally gotten around to reading it. I guess today's publication date kind of forced me, but I really don't know what I was waiting for. I mean what's the benefit of having the ARC if I don't read it before the book is published?
I absolutely loved THE HUNGER GAMES (my review) and couldn't wait to read CATCHING FIRE. I had heard from many fellow bloggers that it was just as good if not better than THE HUNGER GAMES, but I still let it sit on my shelf all summer. In the back of my mind, I think I didn't want to read it because I liked having something to look forward to. Weird, I know....
So a few days ago, I hunkered down and read CATCHING FIRE! I had many of the same feelings that I had when I read THE HUNGER GAMES; and overall I have to say that I loved it! I knew it was going to be hard to live up to my expectations (and I don't think the book isn't without a few very minor flaws,) but I think it was an excellent story and did not disappoint. I definitely include both THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE on my must-read list!!!
I admit that I was a little surprised over the weekend to pick up Entertainment Weekly Magazine and discover that they gave this book a "C" (here's the review.) I usually think pretty highly of EW's opinion so I read the review closely to see if I had missed anything when I read the book. While I agree that the reviewer did make a few valid points, I definitely beg to differ! I guess that's why there are different books for different folks!
I feel like I've written a lot of words and haven't said much about this book. That's because I am having a hard time writing this review -- I don't want to give anything away. And it's very difficult for me to "talk" about this book without giving away any spoilers. Under no circumstance do I think a reader should pick up CATCHING FIRE and have any idea of what's going to happen. This book is chock full of surprises and so much fun to read!
Anyway, I'll start here: I thought CATCHING FIRE was terrific and it definitely held my attention throughout. I know not everyone is going to agree with me, but I liked how the author spent more time establishing some of the background and character development in the first half of the book. While I did enjoy the "game" aspect of both novels, I'm not sure CATCHING FIRE would have kept my interest as well if it had predominantly taken place in the arena. I think I would have felt as if this novel were too similar to THE HUNGER GAMES, so I definitely appreciated learning more about the history of Panem and Katniss' state of mind. Having said that, I did feel that the last half of the book was extremely exciting and very reminiscent of what I loved about THE HUNGER GAMES. Although, I'm not entirely sure that I didn't feel like the last third of the book was a bit rushed. Maybe it's just that the action was fast-paced and I wanted more!
As was the case when I read THE HUNGER GAMES, I still really liked the characters in CATCHING FIRE, especially Katniss and Peeta. I loved Katniss in the first book, and I appreciated that Katniss had changed a lot from her experience in The Hunger Games -- she seemed to have matured as a result. I liked that Katniss could be Katniss in this story, whereas she was forced to play a part in THE HUNGER GAMES to survive. I definitely think I gained a better understanding of her in this novel. I thought the author did a wonderful job of creating conflict in Katniss' life and showing what the overall effects of this were on her. Even though Katniss' life certainly wasn't reflective of a normal 17 year old in today's society, I still think kids will relate to her and even look up to her. Despite what she had been through, she still had many of the same fears, concerns and insecurities that all teenagers have.
I was left a bit speechless when I finished this book (and if you've met me, you know I'm not often at a loss for words.) Unlike THE HUNGER GAMES, where the book ended and I was curious about what was going to happen to Katniss, CATCHING FIRE just ended so abruptly... and with some huge cliffhangers! I am dying to know what's going to happen next, and I cannot believe that I have wait what seems like a very long time for the next book. I want/need Book 3 right now!
There is a fantastic website devoted to The Hunger Games.There are games, discussion boards, and downloads that will appeal to fans of all ages. In addition, there is even a place where you can ask Suzanne Collins a question! You can read an excerpt of Chapter 1 here.
And now for the HUGE news that I've been dying to share with all of you for days! I have three copies of CATCHING FIRE to giveaway courtesy of Scholastic Books!!! Not only will the three winners receive a hardcover copy of the newly released CATCHING FIRE, but they will also get the collector’s mocking jay pin and a limited edition T-shirt!
If you'd like a chance to win one of these awesome CATCHING FIRE prize packs, just leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me if you're Team Gale or Team Peeta. To double or triple your chances, you can blog and/or tweet about this contest with a link back to this post. This giveaway will be open until Tuesday, September 15th at 11:59 p.m. Good Luck!
The Fine Print: The CATCHING FIRE book promotion is open to participants with a United States mailing address only. Entrants under age 13 must have parent or guardian permission to enter. The Catching Fire book promotion runs from September 1 to September 15, 2009.